NFL bountying: A blessing in disguise
The New Orleans Saints have been busted for bountying: a system that gives monetary incentives for big hits and seriously injuring opposing players during games. Gregg Williams, the defensive coordinator for the Saints, has been accused of orchestrating the affair, dubbed "Bountygate," while Head Coach Sean Payton was aware but did nothing to stop it. The Bountygate scandal was when Williams pooled money together to pay roughly $500-$1,000 for big hits and extra money if the opposing player was injured and/or taken off the field in a stretcher. Most people are disgusted by this bounty system, yet I believe it should be completely encouraged and even implemented throughout the league as soon as possible.
Big hits are an important cog in the game and are necessary for a team to be effective. The best way to stop a good running team is to plug up the holes and smash the running back. If a defense wants to stop a slot receiver from coming across the middle, it is expected that a linebacker knock his lights out. This is a usual expectation and result for the defense. Big hits are relied upon and make for good football. Good football should be rewarded.
Almost as important, big hits are fantasized by the fans and media. One should look at the highlight reels: The media puts big hits and critical injuries on television. It's what sells. It's what fans love. If it's part of the reason that fans watch the games, then why is it an outrage that the Saints have made a system commemorating those big hits?
Dick Butkus is one of the greatest and most beloved players of all time, largely due to his tenacity on the field. He was always looking to put a lick on somebody. His ferocity is often remembered from his famous words.
"I wouldn't ever set out to hurt anyone deliberately unless it was important—like a league game or something."
Football fans idolize him for being such a passionate and hard hitting player, so isn't the outrage over monetary bounties placed on hard hits a double standard? It's ridiculous and hypocritical. That's what they get paid to do, and fans love them for it.
Regardless of the thin line on which the issue of bountying tiptoes, here's where I have the problem with Bountygate: Why $1,000? $1,000 is not a lot of money to these players. They treat that kind of money like the world treats Kathy Griffin: roughly meaningless, but for some reason, still acknowledged as existing. I say, keep the barbaric bounty system, but bump it up a couple notches, way beyond the fancy steak dinners. All that would lead to is Vince Wilfork sitting on every soul that crosses his path, and then what? Diners all over the country would be out of beef, and offensive players in New York would run scarce. Without beating around the bush, here's an effective bounty system: For every big hit, the player just completed anywhere from 2 to 6.5 credit hours that he didn't complete or flunked in college. The player injured the backside receiver on a sweep? Good job, stud; here's a get-out-of-jail-free card for him or anyone in his family (expect Michael Vick to make a permanent and perfect switch from undersized quarterback to defensive MVP candidate). And finally, if the victim gets the stretcher, the player earned one full day with Charlie Sheen and his drug of choice. Although this may come a little too late for Sam Hurd's unreliable ass, it would certainly make those Texas Christian University players look promising. Tanner Brock would get a good look from the NFL after the jail time.
Why aren't fanatics trying to push for the biggest hitting, most bone-crushing football possible? Incentivize these thugs to go postal on each other. Imagine how intense it would be. It would make those hard-to-watch Cleveland vs. Cincinnati-type games almost watchable. No, clearly fans don't have any player from Ohio on his or her fantasy team, but interestingly, the NFL let Jerome Simpson play, and the first person to give him a concussion got all his drugs. Yeah, viewers would be stupid if they didn't at least flip between that and the Storage Wars marathon. If fans allowed the sport a chance at incentives, it would allow for more excitement. Taking it a bit further, the incentives could be close to life or death itself. Instead of stadiums, if the teams played in coliseums and, depending on the hit and internal bleeding, the fans gave a thumb up or thumb down, there would be breathtaking ball play on every down. It would be boisterous. Take the kids out to the game, have a beer and make a memory.
Face it: the teams without incentives end up with a Philip Rivers and no way out of the monotony. Fans need to embrace what the Saints are trying to do and realize that they could have some great football if this keeps up in the right direction. More importantly, fans would not end up with a bunch of Philip Riverses running around acting like they do stuff. Incentivize and do not let the league turn into a Philip Rivers-friendly place. Say no to Philip Rivers; say no to boring football.
William Beasley is a Hanszen College sophomore.
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